The more the shoulder changes the more it stays the same.
With the Richie Sexson contract negotiations at a stand still the Diamondbacks announced today that they have signed free agent third baseman Troy Glaus to a four year deal. Glaus, who is 28, had reportedly been high on the Diamondbacks wish list of replacements if they could not sign Sexson, and became even more attractive when the Angels declined to offer the free agent arbitration, allowing the D'Backs to sign him without losing any draft picks.
The two sluggers (Sexson and Glaus) have put up very similar numbers over the course of their careers, and in fact are in eerily similar situations in their careers.
2005 will be Sexson's ninth tour in the Majors, for Glaus '05 will be his eighth. Both are power hitting corner infielders who strikeout too much, but are viewed as run producers, and thus clubs aren't terribly concerned with K's. Both came into 2004 looking to put up productive seasons to bolster their fortunes, as 2004 was the final year in both their contracts. While Sexson had come to the Diamondbacks in a deal that involved shipping a busload of prospects to the Brewers, Glaus had prospect issues of his own, namely Dallas McPherson, the highly touted Angels 3rd base prospect that could potentially bump Glaus out of the Angels plans. And from the outset both players appeared to be doing exactly what they wanted.
In his first two months Glaus was looking like an early MVP candidate. He hit .336 with 11 homers and 28 RBI, but 28 Ks and 14 walks in 207 at bats.
Sexson's line might even be more impressive. In his 83 April at bats Sexson had nine homers, 22 RBI, and though the .241 average and 19 Ks weren't wonderful, he drew 13 walks.
And then both players, in the middle of great seasons, went down, and went down hard. Glaus was attempting to field a bunt when he crashed down to the Tropicana Field turf and torn the rotator cuff in his shoulder. He would return late in the year, strictly as a DH, but lost the bulk of the season after have surgery to repair the rotator cuff. Sexson meanwhile checked his swing and dislocated his shoulder, came back after rest and rehabilitation only to check his swing and dislocate the shoulder again two games into his return. He was lost for the season.
Sexson's injury is considered the more likely of the two to reoccur. Dislocated shoulders, even after corrective surgery, are simply never the same. While it is likely the injury will never happen again, Diamondback's doctors have publicly stated that there is a 10% chance of re-injuring the shoulder, a chance that prompted the Diamondbacks to offer Sexson a contract loaded with performance and health incentives. The deal wasn't what Sexson was looking for, and the interest he drew from other teams, notably the Mets, Mariners and Yankees, left the Diamondbacks and their incentives out in the cold.
Glaus on the other hand was forced out by the emergence of a young, cheap star in the making, Scout.com's #1 prospect, Dallas McPherson. McPherson was so highly thought of by the Angels that he was added to the playoff roster despite only having a handful of 'September Call Up' appearances. With Glaus (and his '04 salary of $10 million plus) heading toward free agency, the Angels made it pretty clear Glaus would either return to Anaheim at a deep discount, or be free to ply his trade elsewhere.
Glaus has missed significant portions of the last two seasons, so when comparing stats FutureBacks.com took both players last four seasons in which their played a minimum of 145 games. For Glaus that means 1999-2002 while Sexson's four year averages are for 2000-2003.
|Sexson (4 year Avg)||.280||39.6||110.5||.525|
|Glaus (4 year Avg)||.256||32||100||.510|
Both are shown to be productive hitters, Glaus is 28, Sexson 29, and thus both should be entering the prime of their careers. While Sexson hits for significantly more average and just short of eight home runs more per season, Glaus is by no means lacking in the power department. The Diamondbacks wanted a right handed power bat, and in Glaus they got one.
Glaus's deal is reportedly worth $45 million over four years, putting him just ahead of his 2004 salary of $10.45 million. Sexson is reportedly looking for a deal just north of those numbers, in the $12 million dollar range. While Sexson had reportedly been offered a deal worth $10 million a year by the Diamondbacks, it had also been reported that achieving that salary was directly contingent on his staying healthy, and that the money would not be guaranteed.
There should be concern about Glaus's rotator cuff. While Glaus' agent has stated that the arm is 100% the plan would apparently be to move young third baseman Chad Tracy to first base, and install Glaus at third. There was speculation that Glaus could make the move to first, but he dispelled that rumor at Thursdays press conference, saying "I was brought here to play third, and not anywhere else. I've been a third baseman my whole career."
At the press conference, Glaus addressed the shoulder, "I've been throwing, my arm feels great, the surgery went well. It's healed, it's fixed. I'll be ready for Spring without any doubt."
For the Diamondbacks it came down to one simple realization. They absolutely needed to make a major free agency signing. From a PR standpoint, it shows fans that the team is still interested in winning, it gives the D'Backs something positive to point to in an off season that has been dominated by Randy Johnson trade rumors, the Wally Backman hiring/firing, and reminders about a 2004 season in which the Diamondbacks only won 51 games. Because there were no indications that Sexson was likely to resign, the Diamondbacks found someone they could, because they had to. GM Joe Garagiola Jr. said, "This is a cornerstone player, what he brings is what we felt we needed to address, I'm confident I can say there will be more to come."
While Glaus' signing is a positive, it is by no means the answer to the D'Backs woes. Despite the General Manager's comments there is still no evidence to suggest that this will be enough to entice Johnson not to force a trade, and there are still holes to be filled in center field, right field, and most importantly in the starting rotation. The structure of Glaus' deal (he will be paid $8.25 million in '05, $9.25 in '06, $10.75 in '07 and $12.75 in '08) indicates the Diamondbacks are trying to leave themselves enough room to acquire at least one more major player, two if Johnson gets dealt. If the Diamondbacks do entice Russ Ortiz, Matt Clement, or Derek Lowe to sign and bolster their starting rotation, and found a serviceable replacement for Danny Bautista (who was denied arbitration) in right, this team would be young and on the rise. If not, fans will be constantly reminded that while Glaus is a nice player, they gave up six players, including Lyle Overbay, Junior Spivey and Chris Capuano, to acquire Sexson for exactly 91 at bats.